Wild Week in the City!

Wild Week in the City!

Last summer, Jason, Henry and I were discussing what we wanted to do for Thanksgiving and Christmas. We’d all been hankering for a trip to New York, but also to St. Simons or anywhere else, really. We decided that New York it was. We would go for the Macy’s Parade and take a whole week to make it the most amazing trip ever!

So of course, I started planning! We’ve been so many times, I knew what all we would do, but wanted to add some extra fun! I got help from so many friends and together, we made a super fun itinerary that pleased a mom, a dad, and a 10 year old boy.

This is long, so skip ahead or whatever!

Monday, November 24

Our favorite way to go to the city is to leave before the sun comes up and get there before people even leave for work! This was the earliest we’d ever left, though, on a 6am flight out of Atlanta. Yes, that means a 3:30 departure from our house. But? We landed in NYC at 7:50 and were in the hotel by 9. Boom. Full day in the city!

Jason had started a new job November 1, so he wasn’t technically off for the week. He spent Monday and Tuesday, day and night, in Long Island while Henry and I stayed in Manhattan. He would join us on Wednesday morning. So we got to the airport and said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. Odd…

Henry and I got to our hotel around 9 and surprisingly, our room was ready! We love to stay at the Hotel Metro, a Midtown hotel about half a block from Macy’s Herald Square, because of their family rooms. For about the same price as a Times Square room, we get two bedrooms — one with a queen bed and one with two doubles. Space for each of us! It’s close to Metro stations and a Starbucks! They have a wonderful bar and restaurant attached and did I mention how convenient it is? Win Win WIN!IMG_0856

It was strangely warm that day, so Henry and I ditched the coats and any extra layers and headed out. First stop — Times Square. We grabbed a hot dog, hit the M&Ms store and Toys R Us and took a bunch of goofy pictures.

We had planned for a while to meet up and hang out with my friend Neil who lives in Queens. He had found a cool exhibit going on at Discovery Times Square that Henry was so excited about. It was an interactive Avengers exhibit that takes you through intelligence files of the Avengers or something. I didn’t fully understand but Henry thought it was the bee’s knees!

Henry and I met up with Neil after the Avengers exhibit at John’s Pizzeria for some lunch. The pizza was excellent, the beer was cold, and the company was fun! Afterwards, all three of us went and walked around the area. We hit Bryant Park and the NYC Public Library (which Henry thought was really cool) (I thought there were way too many steps considering we woke up at 2:30am).

Afterwards, we headed to Grand Central Station to look around and get a snack at Junior’s. There, Neil treated us to cheesecake and real chocolate egg creams. Uh, I thought the egg cream sounded disgusting until I tried it and now I think about them at least once a day because hello deliciousness!IMG_0875

Henry and I headed back to the hotel where he promptly went to sleep — at 5pm — and I didn’t dare wake him. I wasn’t far behind!

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Tuesday, November 25

Tuesday morning, we slept in a little. We met Neil at Macy’s to head up to the UES for breakfast. Because Jason and Henry are such Seinfeld freaks, he thought it would be cool to go to Tom’s Restaurant. Tom’s is the restaurant they used as the facade for Monk’s Cafe on the show. Since Jason couldn’t go, it was just us and Henry thought it was way cool! We had pancakes and eggs and a typical (but delicious) diner breakfast. We plotted out our day and set out for more fun!

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Since we were up on the UES, we went to the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine. Oh, it was absolutely beautiful! Henry was in awe on the inside of the cathedral and even more so outside when a few peacocks walked by. In the city. Peacocks. Just seemed odd!

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Walking back over towards the main road, we walked through Columbia University. It was beautiful, too. I was freaked out being at a university where people weren’t decked out in orange and blue, saying War Eagle to each other, though. I did feel my IQ points jump up a little just being on campus!

We took a cab down to The Met where Henry enjoyed the Egyptian exhibits and the Knights exhibits. It’s one of the museums I’d never been to, so I was excited to see the Tiffany windows and the Death Becomes Her exhibit.

Lunch was at Alice’s Tea Room, a place I’d wanted to go for a while, but apparently it’s not as awesome in real life as it is online. Lunch was good. The wait was horrible. And Neil and Henry thought it was girly. Oh well…

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We moseyed down to Rockefeller Center where Neil was meeting someone to take pictures later. We did some run-throughs so he would know the best places to take the pictures over near Radio City Music Hall.

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Henry and I headed back to the hotel and had a little bite to eat and crashed! A winter rain/sleet storm was predicted to come in overnight and Jason was already planning to come into the city earlier the next morning than originally planned. Sleep came easy after a long day in the city!

Wednesday, November 26

Wednesday was a very lazy day. It rained buckets, was cold and painfully windy.

Henry and I got up super early and threw on clothes so I could meet Catherine, a mom who lost her daughter to Group B Strep earlier in the year. I take every chance I can to be able to give real life hugs to fellow bereaved moms. Braving the elements was nothing compared to the early days of grief that she was facing. We quickly scooted back to the hotel to warm back up, though!

Jason came straight to the hotel from Long Island and we decided that we would ditch our plans to go to the Statue of Liberty that day. The only thing worse than walking around in the city in wind, rain, and sleet, would be going on a boat to an island in the wind, rain, and sleet!

The three of us took advantage of a day of rest. We napped, had lunch next door at Playwright Bar and Lounge.

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We went the half block over to Macy’s to goof off and then napped some more! Dinner was also close to the hotel at Liberty NYC. I highly recommend this restaurant — it was excellent!

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Back to the hotel we went to hit the bed early and get our plan of attack for the Macy’s Parade the next morning!

Thursday, November 27

Up EARLY for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. This has been a goal of mine — to go back and be a spectator — since I participated in the parade in high school. So of course, I jumped out of bed like it was Christmas morning! We bundled up (not enough) and headed out at 6:30am. Yes, the parade starts at 9. No, we’re not insane. We got a sweet spot at the corner of 38th and 6th, right on the fence. Front row, baby!

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We sat. We waited. We met the people next to us who were absolutely amazing. We watched protestors get tackled to the ground and arrested. We complained. We squeeeeeed when we could finally hear the parade coming!

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The parade in person is absolutely nothing like what you see on television. There’s a lot of behind the scenes scheduling that is too long to share in this post, but that makes it not flow well in person. But… if it’s a bucket list item, it’s one of the most amazing things you can do! In fact, put it on your bucket list right now! You’ll be glad you did.

Yes, I cried like I always do. Yes, my boys laughed at me. Yes, it was totally worth it all!

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Of course, Henry got too cold and then overheated (frostbite?) and almost passed out. He was fine, but jeez, kid, can’t we go to a parade without you falling out?

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It was snowy and drizzly and by the time it was over, we were done. D.O.N.E. Done. We hobbled back to the hotel on frozen numb feet and grabbed lunch at the hotel. And then napped.

I had made reservations for Thanksgiving dinner at Rock Center Cafe. We walked up to Rockefeller Center and had a glass of wine (and Shirley Temple) at the bar. Our dinner was amazing. Best filet ever, maybe! It was fun to eat on the skating rink level and see people enjoying skating while we dined.

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But we were exhausted. We detoured through Times Square to see it all lit up before going to the hotel!

Friday, November 28

Breakfast was at Andrew’s Coffee Shop. You may remember this restaurant from our last trip.

Stupidly, we decided to walk to the Intrepid Museum. It didn’t seem like it was going to be THAT far, but it was extremely cold and windy and well, it was dumb. But, in spite of that, this may have been the highlight of the trip for both Jason and Henry. Boy or girl, I HIGHLY recommend this museum as part of your visit.

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The Intrepid Museum is not only an aircraft carrier with many aircraft on board, but it also houses a submarine, a space shuttle and the British Airways Concorde. Tickets aren’t cheap, but I can say with certainty that they were worth every single penny. It was really all worth it just to see Jason’s excitement while he sat in the Concorde’s cockpit jump seat!IMG_1245

After the Intrepid, we took a cab over to 5th and Central Park and walked down 5th Avenue back towards the hotel. A stop at Tiffany (I got a ring), Saks, Louis Martin (Jason got a watch) and the Lego Store and we were done for the day.

We headed back down to the hotel and decided to eat at the Korean restaurant nearby. None of us had ever eaten Korean and it was to DIE for! Like the egg cream, I think about Korean almost daily. Must find a good restaurant near us!

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Saturday, November 29

We had breakfast at Andrew’s again. It’s so close to Hotel Metro and delicious, it was hard not to!

Afterwards, we took the subway down to Chinatown. Jason and Henry had wanted to find chicken feet to eat but luckily, they didn’t. I was already planning to gag and be dramatic the whole time. We did find a little grocery store and went in and bought all kinds of little treats! I found some black bean treats that were divine. I need to find out how to get more!

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We lunched in Little Italy at Caffe Napoli where Henry had meatballs the size of his head!

We walked to Lower Manhattan to the 9/11 Museum and Memorial. This is also a must-see. I had been to the Memorial, but not the museum. Jason and Henry hadn’t been to either. I wrote about the trip and strange events HERE.

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Being me, and well, us, we went back to the hotel after that because Georgia and Georgia Tech were playing and Auburn and Alabama were playing. So we ate hotel appetizers in the room and drank overpriced beer for the evening!

Sunday, November 30

Our last day. Like we like to get to NYC early, we like to milk the last day for all it’s worth. Our flight is out at 4:30pm so we have all morning plus lunch to goof off before having to head to the airport. And with it being the weekend after Thanksgiving, we plan to give ourselves plenty of time in the airport.

We grabbed breakfast at Tick Tock Diner in The New Yorker Hotel. I had nutella french toast and almost had to go to the hospital due to the awesomeness coma I was in!

All Henry wanted to do the whole trip was go to Central Park Zoo. We didn’t tell him where we were going, but took him there for our last morning! It is always so fun to see the zoo. Such a strange site to be standing in the middle of it with huge city buildings all around.

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Afterwards, we went to FAO Schwarz and back to our hotel to get our things.

It’s always hard to say goodbye to our favorite city, but seeing the city shrink behind us as we drove to LaGuardia was super hard this time. I don’t know if it was because we had been there for a full week or just because it was magical. But there’s always next time… which I’m already planning!

Words, Glorious Words!

Words, Glorious Words!

I sat and sat, thinking about what my word for 2015 would be. I wrote down random words that popped into my head and tried to think, meditate, pray, and contemplate what this very important ONE WORD should be.

Since December, the word glorious has been popping up everywhere. You see, we went to an event for an organization that partners with local Tanzanians to provide education to children, healthcare to families, and opportunities to women. The organization is named Glorious. I left that event with the strongest desire to be part of it — to go to Tanzania to help. To do whatever I could.

Glorious is an adjective that means “having a striking beauty or splendor that evokes feelings of delighted admiration.” It’s a synonym for wonderful, amazing, marvelous, magnificent, spectacular, lovely…

Who wouldn’t want to be glorious? Or to have a glorious life?

I want this. And this year, I will live with this word on my heart.

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With that said, I’m hopeful (very hopeful) that it will work out for me to go to Tanzania this year with Glorious for three to four weeks. By saying it out loud, here, in front of you, I am setting it as a goal. In fact, I made a Pinterest board where I can look at pretty pictures of things to do while in Tanzania, because if I go all the way over there, I plan to volunteer and then take time for myself. Maybe you’re interested in going, too? Let me know… we can go together!

This year, I wish to focus on myself. Not in a selfish way, but I need to tend to myself and my heart and my happiness. I need to huddle inside of myself and regroup — find happiness within and intentionally share it with others. I long to keep my energy clear and not allow myself to get muddled down by outside energy.

On top of that, I have very few goals or resolutions for the year. 2015 will be good. I will make it so.

And maybe I’ll bring you along for this glorious journey!

Goodbye 2014, Hello 2015

Goodbye 2014, Hello 2015

Oh, 2014. You’ve been good and you’ve been bad. As far as I’m concerned, you can go ahead and get on out of here…

Last year, I chose Intuition to be my word of the year. I’ve worked very hard to trust my intuition this year. It isn’t always easy, and sometimes it’s downright impossible, but when I’ve listened? It’s never led me astray.

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2014 was a busy year, and unfortunately I didn’t share a lot of what we did in posts. But here are some of my favorite moments from the year.

January: I cut off all my hair and the entire metro Atlanta area shut down from #snOMG14. Auburn went to the National Championship and lost, Henry won a trophy in the Pinewood Derby and Henry and I ran the Hot Chocolate 5k.

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February: Henry was asked to be in the Austin Chorus that would perform at the local high school. It snowed again. This time, like 6″. We had an amazing time playing in it for days and drinking iced snoffee! I started and completed the hardest weekend of my life, running 19.3 miles over the course of two days. It was stupid and amazing!

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March: March was super busy with Listen To Your Mother stuff. We held auditions and planned, plotted, and schemed. I spent a full week traveling the Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi area with my boss and coworker. I got to ride in the backseat of the truck the whole week and needed serious pain meds when it was all over!

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April: In April, my dad tried to catch himself on fire by blowing up his lawnmower. He’s fine… now we just laugh. Henry spent several days camping with his grandmother and her friend at Stone Mountain. The girls I grew up with from the time we were born all spent a day together. We always have such a great time! Listen To Your Mother: Atlanta happened. It was magical!

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May: May saw the end of third grade for Henry. Mom 2.0 was in Atlanta and I was fortunate to have been asked to be on the social media team. It was an amazing conference and I just l.o.v.e being able to see my friends… especially in “my” city! We marked Charlie’s 11th birthday without pomp and circumstance.

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June: In June, I left my job at the wholesale nursery to do social media management full (part) time. Jason and I took Henry to New Orleans for the 70th Anniversary of D Day. We spent the full day at the National WW2 Museum, which I highly recommend to anyone and everyone. On this trip, after probably 6 years of being friends online, I finally got to give Leah a big hug in person!!

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July: July was busy. We moved into a new house where we have a small pond behind us. Henry and his friend had a lemonade stand. He also participated in the GIANT Dunwoody 4th of July parade and went to Camp Winnataska for the 3rd year. I posted my 700th blog post on this here site.

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August: In August, Henry and his first girlfriend Daria were able to get together. Our families went bowling and they were absolutely mortified to have to take a picture together (though later, I saw them playing a game standing about 1cm apart). Henry started 4th grade and I landed myself in the ER with a crazy reaction to a sulfa drug. Fun times, y’all! I also shared a recipe for the Georgia Cash Crop Cobbler. It’s seriously delicious.

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September: In September, Jason and I dressed up and went out. It was to a wedding where we knew only the bride, but it was out. And fancy. Henry’s hair got to epic lengths and he looked like a teenager in his school pictures. Type A Conference was in Atlanta and I spent a few nights down in Buckhead with dear dear friends, old and new.

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October: In October, I went to a few Auburn football games, hanging out with Kim and my #BelieveBitches crew! We went to the fair down in Perry, as usual, and celebrated Halloween with the Hollidays for the 5th year.

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November: November marked Henry’s TENTH birthday. Double digits. He had a Game Truck birthday party, which was amazing! I highly recommend having someone bring a game truck to your driveway. You can drink while they play games and entertain your child! The Cub Scout Den went zip lining. What a blast! Henry was a narrator in his class’s patriotic program. If you want, I can have him recite his part in his Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonation. My friends got together for an unofficial 20th class reunion. There was much drinking and much Cards Against Humanity going on. 

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We spent Thanksgiving Week in New York City.

This was by far the highlight of our year. Henry and I got to hang out with my dear friend Neil for two days while Jason worked in Long Island, and then we spent the next 5 days as a family doing amazing things, like the Intrepid Museum and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade! Yes, I’m going to recap the trip after the new year because there is SO much more!

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December: In December, I turned 39. Yes, I’m staring down 40. We celebrated my birthday and our friend’s 50th with all you can eat catfish! We celebrated the holidays with Jason’s side of the family at the annual Anthoine Christmas Party, and of course, took goofy pictures of ourselves with our Christmas tree! Christmas was wonderful as usual, with my parents coming over for Christmas day lunch and then going to Jason’s mom’s for the weekend.

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2015 is now upon us.

I think I speak for a lot of people when I say I hope 2015 is better than 2014. Not that it was horrible for my family or myself exactly, but there’s always room for improvement. I’ll be spending the next few days thinking about what I want in 2015 and I’m sure you’re going to do the same.

My big hope for everyone is that we can all find happiness and peace.

Cheers!

 

When things don’t make sense…

When things don’t make sense…

There are times when we realize that things just don’t make sense. But once we think about it, they make perfectly perfect sense.

We just don’t understand what it means.

Maybe we’re not meant to.

Three years ago, I took my niece to NYC for her 13th birthday. We spent several hours in the rain walking around the newly finished 9/11 Memorial. I wrote about finding Todd Beamer’s name and thinking back to his wife’s book and then…

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As strange as it sounds, I think of Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas and her Unborn Child often. I mean, not every day, but sometimes I’ll hear a word and think of her. Coozie, Grandiflora (plant word), Lauren (my sister’s name)… They all spark a memory of that moment.

I don’t understand why, but at the same time, I don’t question it.

Thanksgiving week, while we were in New York, we went to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. It was the first time there for Jason and Henry, and my first time at the Museum. Let me tell you. It’s amazing — a must-see when you’re in the city.

In the museum, they have a room that is lined with photos of all who lost their lives on 9/11/01. Faces are smiling up and down, as if they are actually looking at you. And you feel them. I wasn’t paying attention to names, just the eyes in the pictures, when a name grabbed me on a photo.

Yes, Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas.

The one name that had grabbed me before, grabbed me again almost exactly 3 years later.

Sometimes what we believe as coincidence
is really just getting ourselves caught
in an angel booby trap. ~Terri Guillemets

In the center of this room, there was a small theater that ran on loop, videos about those who lost their lives narrated by people who loved them. There were no seats available, so I looked into the room and on the wall were the words Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas. Of course I started crying because, WOW!  

I don’t know what any of it means, but I know that for some reason Lauren and her Unborn Child have a place in my heart. I know nothing about her except what I have seen in the memorial but I’m going to try to find out all I can about her. There may be nothing that ties us together, or there may be something.

I may never understand what it means. Maybe I’m not meant to.

Just like that… You’re 10.

Just like that… You’re 10.

It seems like just yesterday, you were placed in my arms, held up by your dad because to be honest, I was so drugged up I couldn’t function. But I remember that moment. I remember asking if you were ok and crying when they said you were healthy and safe.

It seems like just yesterday, you were taking your first steps at Thanksgiving lunch and getting your first teeth. Then you were riding your first bike, having your first little girlfriend, and having your first sleepovers.

It seems like just yesterday, you were nine. That’s because you were.

But today you’re ten. Ten.

That’s double digits.

Two hands.

You’re JAZZ HANDS YEARS OLD, Henry Love.

I’m amazed at the young man you’ve grown into. You’re the right amount of funny mixed with the right amount of sweet and sensitive. You’re really like a sweet and savory nut, if I have to be honest.

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Happy Birthday, Henry.

Here’s to a great year!

 

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